Disney+ makes The Simpsons available in correct aspect ratio
Staff Reporter | On 31, May 2020
Disney+ has made The Simpsons available in the correct aspect ratio, following backlash from fans.
Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox gave its new streaming service a vital weapon in the constant battle for content to woo subscribers: 30-plus seasons of The Simpsons, one of the longest-running TV shows in the history of the small screen. But Disney quickly angered fans by converting the show to a 16:9 aspect ratio, a widescreen format that cropped out the edges of the frame – top and bottom, left and right – meaning that a lot of visual gags were lost on viewers.
Disney quickly promised to fix the problem and now, several months later, Disney+ has finally unveiled the result: the option to watch over 19 seasons of the show in the original aspect ratio (it made the switch later in the show’s 20th run, so newer episodes were all made in 16:9).
To find the original aspect ratio for an episode, go to the “Details” tab once The Simpsons has been expected. There, you’ll find a toggle button for the “remastered aspect ratio”. Deselect this and you will get the true 4:3 originals where it is eligible.
The reason for the delay? Joe Rice, VP of media product at Disney Streaming Services, explained to Variety that Disney+ had to “reconfigure its content-delivery engine and build a brand-new feature to accommodate a concept it hadn’t previously anticipated… without breaking any of the existing features”.
In other words, autoplaying of episodes in the right order needed to continue working regardless of whether the 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio had been selected.
“The new 4:3 versions couldn’t be treated as standalone, bonus content,” he added.
The result is a revamp to the MovieLabs Digital Distribution Framework (MDDF) used by the service, which previously anticipated only one video edit of any given title (with multiple audio or subtitle components). Now, multiple combinations have been made available to allow for the option of either video. Problem solved.
Working your way through The Simpsons on Disney+? Read our guide to the 30 essential episodes to watch from the series’ golden age.